start me making jewelry
January 19, 2015 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I need the basics to start making jewelry as a hobby.

I needs me a hobby, and I've been thinking about jewelry-making. I have a background in art, I'm good with my hands and have skinny fingers, I'm nearsighted and have a ton of patience, so I think jewelry making would be a good fit. Plus, I love jewelry. And storing things in little containers. And tools.

I want to start really basic. Would that be beads and wires, or is there something else that's simple? What tools / materials / books should I start with? Websites / instructional videos I can look at? I'm interested in working with found objects as well as traditional materials to make unique pieces. Eventually I want to work with silver and resin, so any info on working in that direction would be helpful as well. But that's pretty far down the road, so please help me get started! Thanks!
posted by Koko to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by sparklemotion at 11:07 AM on January 19, 2015

My "jewelry making" consists of making stretchy bracelets out of beads. I buy Stretch Magic elastic, add beads in a pattern I like, then tie it off at the end in a circle. Simple, and it's easy to make bracelets for friends this way. If you make them bigger, they're chokers!
posted by xingcat at 11:35 AM on January 19, 2015

Best answer: I took a jewelry-making class locally, with access to lots of nifty tools. I loved it, but if I hadn't, it would have been no major loss. Look at Adult Ed. courses, craft shops, etc., for classes. 'Jewelry' encompasses lots of territory, so you may want to try before you buy.
posted by theora55 at 12:56 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Making jewellery that's more advanced than beads/wirewrapping will be a significant investment in learning skills and purchasing tools and making space to use them somewhere.

I'd take an introduction to silversmithing for sure, you'll make a few simple projects and get an idea of what the process is like (as it actually make surprise you! when I took my first jewellery course I was surprised at all the banging and torches.)

but wirewrapping and beading and bead..looming? no idea what it's called, but it seems like a loom with beads are all pretty good to do at home with very little equipment. Most bead stores have classes.

you also may want to look into lapidary as well, which is a lot of the skills you describe, and can be done with less equipment than most jewellery stuff. plus, then you're making beautiful gems! a lot of cities have a gem and lapidary club.
posted by euphoria066 at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2015

Wirewrapped jewelry (bead-weaving too) can get incredibly complex and beautiful, while not requiring much equipment beyond hand tools. Look around for introductory classes so that you can get your feet wet in making eyepins, etc. (dangly earrings are super easy and gratifying), then you can turn to the internet or library books for more advanced techniques.
posted by serelliya at 2:45 PM on January 19, 2015

make a button bracelet, if you want something young and fun. Take a wrist-sized bit of elastic (like what would be in elastic waisted pants... an inch thick). Then sew a bunch of old buttons onto it. I made one a few years ago, and then saw one in a shop for $20 or so. I tried to google image what I had in mind and couldn't really find it. This is the closest: "> The style is the same, but the colors are pretty far off. If you wanted something more adult, go with monotone.
posted by hippychick at 3:30 PM on January 19, 2015

Best answer: The easiest way to get started with jewelry making is with beads and elastic, but you can quickly move from elastic to beading wire, cord and wire. At most basic for the latter you'll need some needlenose pliers, some round nose pliers and a small pair of wirecutters, and online / class / book techniques for how to open and close split rings and jump rings, how to make a ring in wire, how to use crimping beads / tubes, and how to securely knot.

Nthing the taking a class to cover the basics if you can, and if you learn better from classes than books. If you just want a book, I recommend Jewelry Making & Beading for Dummies which covers a lot of the basics and gives you an intro to the kind of hardware available.

I've never done silver smithing so I can't speak too much on that but when you're ready, definitely find a local studio that offers classes and use of the equipment. Same if you end up being interested in making your own glass beads and pendants.
posted by girih knot at 4:53 PM on January 19, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses! There is indeed a store in my town that offers classes in several techniques which are free for beginners, so I'm going to check that out as well as Beaducation (where I found out about chainmail jewelry, which may be my first project!). Now to find some tiny pliers ....
posted by Koko at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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